Originally created 04/02/97

Aiken reconsiders plan for parking



AIKEN - Although the Aiken City Council voted last week against buying a downtown tract to develop into a much-needed parking lot, the city manager said Tuesday there's still hope.

Steve Thompson said Aiken's Downtown Development Association is trying to get Bill Moore of Aiken, owner of a .31-acre lot on Richland Avenue, to lower his appraisal of $110,000 closer to the city's appraised value of $85,200.

Mr. Thompson said Mr. Moore could write off as a tax-exempt donation the difference between what the city pays for the property and his $110,000 asking price.

"The money could be used as a tax-exempt donation like a donation to a charity," Mr. Thompson said. "We're still discussing it."

City officials have been looking at downtown tracts, including the one on Richland Avenue, to develop into parking lots since last summer when business owners complained of losing customers because employees took up parking spaces.

A parking committee formed by downtown development sent letters to businesses asking employees not to park in front of stores on Laurens Street but instead along the median on the street and behind stores.

In other business, the downtown development association still is trying to decide what type of structure to build to commemorate former Aiken Mayor H. Odell Weeks. He retired as mayor in 1991 after serving 40 years.

Downtown development officials originally looked at building a wrought-iron gazebo in a parkway across from Bee Lane on Park Avenue, but it was too expensive, they said. It would have cost about $40,000.

They now are looking at building a clock or some other structure. One possible location for the structure is the intersection of Richland Avenue and Laurens Street.

"We're now back to the drawing board," Sam Erb, owner of the West Side Bowery restaurant, said. "This is something we're going to have to live with a long time so we want to do it right."